Dance Is for Boys Too

This is Billy Elliott, not my friend's kid. Billy doesn't look too happy here, but he LOVES to dance!

My friend posted an adorable picture on Facebook the other day.

It was her young son’s first day of dance class and he was at the barre in second position along with the rest of his classmates. He was in shorts and a T-shirt and the other students (all girls) were in leotards and tutus.

As a ballet lover myself, I was so excited to see the picture! Little kids at ballet! And better yet, a BOY getting the chance to experience the joys of ballet. He was adorable and according to his mom had a great time.

I commented on the photo supportively, as did many others. But there was one comment that really pissed me off:

“Aw man is he gonna hate this picture in a few years!”

My heart sank.

Here it was: It’s embarrassing for a boy to take ballet.

I don’t think a similar comment would have been posted if my friend had uploaded a picture of her young daughter playing baseball for the first time with all boys.

But for a boy to dance (especially ballet), to do a “girls” thing WITH all girls. Now that could prove embarrassing some day.

I think that’s bullshit.

Dance is for everyone. EVERYONE.

There is much to be learned, experienced and enjoyed from learning dance from an early age – whether it’s ballet, modern, jazz, or tap.

It’s a chance for kids to play and have fun. At the same time, they learn better connection and control over their bodies. It’s an opportunity to communicate through movement and music. And, again, it’s FUN.

It’s not as much fun when you feel embarrassed or self-conscious.

And a lot of that comes from the idea that what girls do is not cool – it’s not for boys. It’s pretty accepted (and even celebrated) for girls to be “tomboys” (a bullshit term in itself; girls who like to climb trees and play sports are just kids who like to climb trees and play sports, not a type of “boy”).

But, sadly, it takes a brave parent to introduce and encourage their boys to explore activities still disproportionately associated with girls – like dance. So many boys grow up thinking that dance is not for them – and they turn into men who don’t feel comfortable with dancing.

And why should they? I’ve been dancing since I was four, and I’ve not had one moment in my life where anyone has, either implicitly or explicitly, called into question my gender or my sexuality for doing so.

But that’s what happens to boys and men- at least in the U.S. In many other countries, it is not considered weird for boys and men to dance everything from ballet to salsa to ballroom!

I think this needs to stop. All kids deserve the chance to explore all aspects of the human experience, regardless of sex. Whether that’s dance, baseball, swimming, singing, tennis, running, playing music…you get my point.

Offhand comments like that of my friend’s friend on Facebook keep us back by perpetuating the idea that a boy enjoying dance is something to be embarrassed about. And those little comments add up when others have negative reactions or make jokes (“So do you wear a tutu, like the girls? haha”). It also contributes to the devaluing of girls.

If my friend’s kid winds up loving dance, I want him to love it without anyone telling him it’s weird or wrong. It’s a tragedy for anyone to feel bad about what they love to do, simply because of their sex or gender.

Dance is for everyone.

7 thoughts on “Dance Is for Boys Too

  1. Thanks for posting this! My son is in his third year of tap in an all boys class. I am so happy that we found a school that is so accepting of boys in dance. I am proud of his accomplishments and his passion!

    • That’s great to hear, Jessie! I’ve always wanted to try tap dancing – that is definitely on the list for Follow My Lead 🙂 Does he have any tap heroes – Gregory Hines, Savion Glover…? Such an amazing style of dance to study. Thanks for your comment!

  2. My cousing (a boy) did ballet, and celtic step when he was growing up…. He also was in several choirs in high school (sang at the Vatican and with Anuna with those choirs) and he is very much a man’s man. And he loved dance and choir. And he loved those more than karate and basket ball and tennis (his dad had to force him to do those). Gender or sexual orientation has nothing to do with what a person likes.

    • Exactly! It’s all about finding the type of body movement and expression that YOU like – regardless of your sex, gender of sexuality. Glad to hear your cousin was able to explore so many facets of song and dance. Thanks for your comment, Maggie!

  3. My son loves to dance. We’re lucky to have a studio nearby with a lot of boys participating. They mostly do hip hop, but there’s room to expand.

    • That’s wonderful 🙂 Hip hop is so much fun – I’m glad your son is getting the opportunity to learn dance in a supportive environment. Who knows? Maybe contemporary or ballet is next…. 😀 Thanks for your comment!

  4. My apologies for the delay in responding to your comments, btw. Had a little problem with my spam filter, so I just discovered them! Thanks to everyone for reading the blog and weighing in. I love hearing from you!

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